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Requiring fewer trips across the field and using much less horsepower, no-till may be among the easiest way for farmers to meet the new federal fine-particle air standards.
No-till is definitely going to become more important since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is gearing up for enforcement of tougher air quality standards for agricultural engine emissions along with excessive dust from tillage and harvesting. Yet you’re already using one of the most cost-effective ways of meeting these new fine-particle air standards since less tillage results in much less soil dust and a number of other potential pollution and health concerns.
First issued in 1997, these federal recommended rules recently survived a recent battle in the U.S. Court of Appeals Court. However, it’s going to be extremely difficult and expensive for farmers and equipment manufacturers to meet the new agricultural rules since there’s little available scientific evidence on which to base enforcement or compliance decisions.
The Clinton administration tried to use particle-matter air standards to reduce emissions that would help people who are sensitive to pollution. Yet one of the problems is that research is extremely limited on whether fine-particulate-matter concerns are actually caused by farmers. That’s because most of the available data on fine particulates has come from urban areas rather than farming areas.
However, California’s San Joaquin Valley is one farming area that’s been tracked in the past. Research data collected from this area indicates that only 7 percent of the area’s particulate matter actually came…